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Suburban Washington D.C. Envies Smart-Growth ATL?

Perhaps you've caught wind of the recent study by George Washington University professor Christopher Leinberger suggesting that metro Atlanta could be veering from its sprawl-addicted past? If not, the key statistic: Since 2008, most of metro Atlanta's development (60 percent) has occurred in walkable urban places, termed "WalkUPs". The findings raised eyebrows on a national level, including this thoughtful post by the blog Greater Greater Washington (D.C.), titled: "Four lessons Prince George's County can learn from Atlanta." It's cause for a double-take when any older, East Coast community looks to Atlanta as a smart-growth frontrunner, but this piece is especially laudatory: "Prince George's County has stubbornly stuck with sprawl, preferring development outside the Beltway and away from transit," writes Bradley Heard, a D.C.-area resident, attorney and walkability advocate. "Could it learn a new way to grow from Atlanta, which is swiftly metamorphosing from 'Sprawlanta' to new urban paradise?"

Granted, the piece holds the urban core of Atlanta up to a sprawling suburb, so the comparison is bound to be positive, in terms of relative vibrancy. But it's refreshing to hear Heard, a former Atlantan, applaud the Beltline — "a 22-mile historic and virtually abandoned railroad corridor surrounding the city (that's becoming) a network of public parks, multi-use trails and transit" — and MARTA's efforts to redevelop areas around transit stations. "The biggest lesson that Prince George's County should learn from Atlanta is that it is possible within a relatively short amount of time to effect fundamental change in the county's growth and land use policy," Heard writes. "And that can change the way ordinary citizens, political leaders, developers, and real estate professionals alike see the future of their communities."

For added entertainment, see the comments section, where Atlanta is alternately applauded and ripped as a "sprawling nightmare."

· Four lessons Prince George's County can learn from Atlanta [GGW]
· Recent Beltline coverage [Curbed Atlanta]